The Parliament Choir will be performing at St. John’s, Smith Square tonight, our now traditional end of year bash to say thank you to all our friends and followers. This is always a slightly lighter concert than the other ones through the year, a fine way to kick off the gradual winding down at this time of year.

We will be giving the first performance of The Oxen tonight, also the somethingth performance of We Three Kings, about which a listener once said that you could positively smell the camel dung. Around those two impostors sits the traditional mix of choral and audience carols, and one or two rather unusual items as well.

From tomorrow it is just carols all the way for a while, including a very dense patch next week of seven services in four days. That is seven and counting, so I expect the number to rise, but two of those will feature further performances of The Oxen.

At the end of this patch it all goes quiet just a little before Christmas, and I look at my diary for the first half of 2020 with a mixture of excitement and terror, for it all looks rather blank. It is a far cry from that patch at the end of 2008 (I think) when I left the house before six and got back after ten every day for six weeks in a row, and eventually fell asleep in my soup at a Christmas dinner…

Somebody – I think it may have been Simon – said back then that I needed to be careful most of all about my health, that the two questions people would ask would be Is he ok? closely followed by Who can we get to fill in? That really was the turning point for me, that working for the sake of working was not its own reward. Working for oneself? Well, that is a different matter.